NEW YORK -- The days after the Mets designated Matt Harvey for assignment were fraught with "a lot of tears, a lot of sad moments," as Harvey recalls them three months later. Unsure of his future in the middle of the season, Harvey huddled with his agent, Scott Boras, in
NEW YORK -- The days after the Mets designated Matt Harvey for assignment were fraught with "a lot of tears, a lot of sad moments," as Harvey recalls them three months later. Unsure of his future in the middle of the season, Harvey huddled with his agent, Scott Boras, in Los Angeles. He buried himself in golf, doing anything to avoid thinking about his stunted career.
"It was tough," Harvey said Tuesday, returning to Citi Field for the first time since the Mets traded him to the Reds. "It was really tough."
Harvey's return to New York carried a wave of memories with it. He recalled sitting in the dugout early in his career, soaking in the atmosphere. He thought about the day in 2013 when, as he outdueled the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg, fans serenaded him with chants of "Har-vey's bet-ter!"
And Harvey, of course, reflected on Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, when he dominated for eight innings before faltering in the ninth. Initially hesitant to pitch in the postseason that season, his first after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Harvey has often hinted that his workload may have factored into the health issues that followed -- surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in '16 and shoulder weakness the following summer.
Given the benefit of perspective, Harvey insists he regrets none of it.
"I wouldn't take back the World Series for anything," Harvey said. "That's something a lot of people say they've never done. When you get a chance to suit up and pitch in October and November, those are things you'll never forget. I definitely gave it my all."
Harvey does, however, believe he should have done things differently over his five and a half seasons with the Mets. Often steering the conversation back to his health as he sat in the Reds' dugout on Tuesday, Harvey described himself as hard-headed regarding injuries, focusing on the fact that he was hurt instead of what he could do to move past it.
"I kind of put myself in a bad position," Harvey said. "Health was the biggest thing. Being as competitive as I am, and as all these guys are, when the injuries took a toll on me, and I wasn't able to do my job the way I wanted to, I made a lot of mistakes. That was something I've definitely looked back on, and I wouldn't say regret. People make mistakes, and I definitely made a lot of them."
In Cincinnati, Harvey has demonstrated marked improvement, posting a 4.79 ERA over 15 starts, compared to a 7.00 mark in four starts and four relief appearances with the Mets. Both numbers are a shadow of what Harvey was from 2012-15, when he electrified New York, producing a 2.53 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning in 65 starts. But he has made none of the off-field noise that he became known for in the Big Apple; Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman went so far as to call him "an outstanding citizen."
"You realize that you don't want to fail," Harvey said. "I definitely didn't. I never wanted to fail, especially when I spent my time here. The success that I had, I didn't want to let anybody down -- family, friends. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I put a lot of pressure on getting back to perfection. Kind of the way the 2013 season, the '15 season, all those great games that I threw, I put a lot of pressure on making sure that that happened every time. And obviously, it couldn't. It was tough. Mentally, it was very tough."
Although the Reds did not trade Harvey prior to the July 31 non-waiver Deadline, they could still look to move him to a contender in August -- something he says he would embrace. Set to become a free agent for the first time after this season, Harvey will seek to open the next chapter of his career as he enters his 30s.
He looks forward unceasingly, often refusing to answer questions about the past. But Tuesday offered Harvey a rare chance to do just that. He will not pitch in this week's three-game series against the Mets, who honored him with a video tribute prior to Monday's matchup.
"I can understand that there will be some boos," Harvey said as he prepared for that reception. "I do want everybody to know I do regret a lot of mistakes I made. But I did put my heart into this organization, as I will with future teams, and this team that I'm on now. I really enjoyed every minute here."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.